Should you get a reciprocating air compressor or a rotary screw air compressor? This is a common question among shop owners, mechanics and the home DIY crowd. The answer depends on your needs and your budget.
The more popular style of compressor is a 2 stage Reciprocating Air Compressor. They are reliable, time-tested and put out a good amount of air. They are also quite affordable. They come in many sizes and have been a staple of any auto shop garage for decades.
The main point of getting a Rotary Screw Air Compressor is that it is super quite. They typically make about half the noise of a traditional reciprocating air compressor. That can be important in any shop, but especially in a smaller shop. The premise of a rotary screw compressor is air enters a sealed chamber where it is trapped between two contra-rotating asymmetrical screws. As these rotors inter-mesh, they reduce the volume of trapped air and deliver it compressed to the proper pressure level. Combined with continuous contact cooling, the rotary screw air compressor is able to operate with temperatures approximately half of those generated by a typical reciprocating piston compressor. The lower temperature enables the compressor to operate in a fully loaded continuous duty cycle, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This ability to run for extended periods of time alone makes the rotary compressor ideal for demanding industrial applications. They will also put out more air than a comparably sized reciprocating air compressor. It will also product less heat, which means less moisture build up in the tank, along with greater lift expectancy.
The main reason people stay away from rotary screw compressors is the price. Rotary screw compressors typically cost significantly more than their reciprocating brethren. Reciprocating compressors are significantly less money, which is the main reason you will find many more reciprocating models out there in shops across the country.